Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle’

Harley Stock Fever Cools

March 18, 2010

Who is Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR)?

Investors continued to trade Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) stock in heavier volume than normal on St. Patrick’s Day, but the activity was down sharply from Tuesday’s very heavy activity.

HOG shares were off .17 Tuesday from Wednesday’s close of 28.35 on volume of 4,4558,600 shares, down from Wednesday’s huge volume of 18.4 million. Average daily trading volume over the last three months is 3.6 million shares.

Tuesday’s heavy trading pushed the stock up 1.85 or 7%, but it failed to break the 52-week high of 30.00. The 52-week low is 11.20.

Today’s mid-day trading was in the 28.40 range.

The feeding frenzy was started by rumors that Harley was going to be purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), a huge New York-based private equity firm that specializes in leveraged buyouts (LBO). The international firm, founded in 1976, has more than $50 billion under management and reports it has completed more than $400 billion worth of LBOs.

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Harley Sale Rumors Flying

March 16, 2010

Is Harley-Davidson about to be sold? Could be, because anything is for sale at the right price, but so far the talk is nothing but rumors, and at least one respected securities analyst doesn’t think it’s going to happen.

“In our opinion, any such buyout is highly unlikely ” says Tim Conder of Wells Fargo Securities. “We believe the new management team is highly focused on executing the restructuring of the company. If anything is potentially developing near-term, we believe it could be the company forging a joint venture or fee type of arrangement with a depository institution partner as it relates to HDFS.”

However, HOG shares rose more than 5% to $28.02 today on unsubstantiated rumors the motorcycle maker is the target of a leveraged buyout.

Private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts was named as a possible buyer. Officials from KKR and Harley both declined to comment on the rumor.

Trading was three times the normal volume in Harley shares as investors looked for a bargain.

Harley reported a loss of $218.7 million in the fourth quarter. And its new management team has moved aggressively to make changes at the American icon motorcycle company, including dumping two of its motorcycle operations, Buell and MV Agusta. JD

Contact me with story ideas or news tips at 952/893-6976 or jdelmont@dealernews.com.

Officials: Importer Used Fake CARB Certificates

March 15, 2010

One of Largest U.S. Importers of Chinese Machines Is Charged

Two top executives of one of the largest importers of Chinese and Taiwanese powersports equipment in the U.S. have been charged by California authorities with selling vehicles that did not meet that state’s emission standards, according to the complaint obtained by Dealernews.

Kening N. Ma, president and owner, and Shirley Hyunae Ji, vice president, of Goldenvale, Inc., were charged last week in a 70-count complaint. The complaint, filed in San Bernardino, Calif., Superior Court, charges the two executives and “another person or persons” with selling motor vehicles that had not been certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to consumers and dealers in California.

The complaint charges the executives with multiple felony counts of grand theft of personal property (more than $400), possession of false certificates, and money laundering involving more than $448,000.

The complaint said that Ma had, and used, certificates known to be “false, altered, forged, and counterfeited.”

According to industry estimates, Goldenvale was one of the top two or three importers and retailers of Chinese and Taiwanese powersports equipment during the last several years.

Goldenvale is a diversified importer that operates facilities in Ontario, Calif, and Dallas, Texas. It imports several powersports machines, including ATVs, dirtbikes, scooters and karts. The powersports units were sold online and through a network of dealers under the Roketa brand.

The company also imported many other items, ranging from artwork and blankets, to  toys and cooking utensils.

Specific sales figures are not available from the closely held company, but import data and industry analysts believe that Goldenvale imported nearly 80,000 units in 2008. But that number dropped off sharply to only about 2,000 units last year as the company attempted to deal with a large unsold inventory of machines.

The company had big years in 2006, according to industry estimates, when it retailed nearly 50,000 ATVs, and again in 2008 when it retailed almost 50,000 scooters. Those numbers put Goldenvale in the top three importers/distributors of Chinese/Taiwanese ATVs in 2006 and scooters in 2008.

Last week’s arrests were the result of an investigation that took several years, dating back as far as 2005, according to court records. The investigation was a joint effort of CARB and the San Bernardino’s district attorney’s office.  JD

Contact me with story ideas and news tips at 952/893-6876 or
at jdelmont@dealernews.com.

Importers of Chinese Motorcycles, ATVs Arrested

March 14, 2010

Pair Charged With 70 Felonies; Certification Violations

Two top executives at Goldenvale Inc., a diversified California importer of powersports products, have been arrested and charged with illegally importing motorcycles, ATVs and other vehicles from China and selling the units in California without proper state certification.

Goldenvale president and owner Kening N. Ma and vice president Shirley Hyunae Ji were charged in a 70-count criminal complaint that includes conspiracy to commit theft, grand theft, and money laundering.

The pair were arrested last week, according to a published report in the San Bernardinto Sun newspaper.

The powersports products sold under the Roketa brand also include scooters, go-karts and other gas and electric-powered vehicles.  The company, which operates facilities in Ontario, Calif., and Dallas, Texas, also imports items ranging from artwork and blankets to toys and cooking utensils. The company imported fewer than 2,000 powersports units last year, according to industry estimates.

The powersports units were sold on-line and through a national dealer network.

Prosecutors said dozens of victims purchased vehicles from Goldenvale that were not certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the newspaper reported. The amount paid by victims ranged from several hundred dollars up to $4,000 for each vehicle, prosecutors said.

The vehicles are illegal to operate in California if they do not have CARB certification.

Ma and Ji are named in a complaint filed in San Bernardino Superior Court. Ma faces one count of conspiracy, 33 counts of grand theft, 30 counts of possessing a false or blank vehicle registration and six counts of money laundering, according to court records.

Ji is named in the counts alleging conspiracy, grand theft and money laundering.

The certificates of origin allow consumers to register their vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

In this case, the certificates of origin show a manufacturer name that did not manufacture the vehicles, according to the newspaper. The vehicles also were never certified by CAB, according to the newspaper report.

These arrests culminated a multi-year investigation of illegal activities, according to one CARB official.  JD

Contact me with story ideas or news tips. You may reach me at
952/893-6876 or jdelmont@dealernews.com

Are Consumers Getting Ready To Buy Bikes?

March 3, 2010

Pent Up Demand May Be Stronger Than We Thought.
Is a Bike Rebate Program Necessary?

Is there enough pent up demand to push consumers into buying a bike this spring? Maybe so, based on what happened with the government’s appliance stimulus program this month in Minnesota and Iowa.

But it may take an exciting promotion from OEMs to prime the pump.

In the last 18 months, consumers have been busy paying down credit cards and building up savings accounts. The savings rate has been the fastest in a decade. And January was a record 16th consecutive month of declining credit card debt; it dropped $1.7 billion to $864.4 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.

Now consumers may be ready to take a break from that fiscal conservatism and spend a bit of money.

Look at what happened in Minnesota and Iowa this month:  The two states ran through almost $8 million in government appliance rebate programs in less than a day.

Minnesota consumers were so excited about the retail program launched March 2, that they flooded the state’s dedicated phone lines and swamped its website. More than 25,000 persons signed up for the $5 million program in less than two hours, and by 10 am on the first day, there was a waiting list of 10,000 persons, when the program was shut down. That’s 35,000 persons jumping on the program that offered a $200 rebate on the purchase of an energy efficient major appliance such as a refrigerator.

I really can’t believe that 35,000 Minnesotans suddenly decided they wanted a new refrigerator or washer. I wonder if it’s more a case of WANTING a new appliance, rather than NEEDING one, and using the rebate as an excuse to dig into that fat savings account. And it’s not a freebee,  give-away program.

In Minnesota, a qualifying refrigerator is going to run you more than $1,000, so a consumer is still on the hook for close to $1,000 after sales tax, even with the rebate. Minnesota’s top rebate of $200 was much higher than many other states.

An energy-efficient refrigerator qualified for only a $50 rebate in Georgia, $75 in California and $100 in New York. Nearly $300 million in rebates will be available to consumers across the country through April.

The Minnesota story was much the same in Iowa where its $2.8 million program was exhausted in the first day.

Not all consumers liked the program, though, perhaps an indication of tight cash in some regions. New York had to extend its $18.7 million program and Michigan used up only about half of its $9.5 million in the first month of its program. Because of the state’s weak economy, it’ll take an estimated four months for Michigan consumers to sign up for all of the rebate money.

More Good News

Here are another couple of bright notes for retailers: Most retail sales reports improved in February over February 2009, despite heavy snowstorms for much of the month throughout the country. (Okay, February 2008 wasn’t such a hot month and it didn’t take great numbers to beat it.)

Another positive sign: the pace of home foreclosures slowed in February; it grew only 6% for the year, the smallest annual jump in four years, and was down 2% from January.

If the recent appliance rebate program was any indication, perhaps we’ll see consumers parting with some of those savings dollars and popping for a new bike or ATV soon. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

I wonder, though, if the OEMs will have to prime the pump a bit to get consumers excited about spending money for a bike they way they were spending for appliances.  JD

Contact me with story ideas and news tips. You can reach me
at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com.

MIC Promotes Use of Off-Road Vehicles in China

March 2, 2010

Participates In Italian-Chinese Trade Show Talks

When representatives of the Italian motorcycle industry announced last November that they intended to launch a major motorcycle show in  China, this year, it caught the attention of Tim Buche, head of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the U.S. association of motorcycle, ATV and scooter manufacturers.

“I suggested that there was good value in the MIC facilitating a dialogue on the evolving market for ATVs and similar products in China while I was at the EICMA show last November,” Buche told me last evening. Constantino Ruggiero, managing director of EICMA, agreed. And so the Americans began playing a significant role in putting together this year’s show in China.

EICMA is the huge annual motorcycle show held in Milano, Italy. EICMA is owned and operated by the Italian trade association of motorcycle and bicycle manufacturers and producers of aftermarket parts and accessories (ANCMA). It was founded in 1920 and has more than 170 members. For more information on ANCMA, click here.

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Malcolm Smith’s Stamp of Approval: The Malcolm Test

January 12, 2010

File this one under the Things We Like category. Seems that motorcycling legend, Top 100 Dealer Grand Prize winner and all-around super nice guy Malcolm Smith has started up a new blog over at his dealership’s website. It’s called The Malcolm Test and in it Malcolm puts his considerable knowledge to use testing, reviewing and showcasing the products that he sells at his Riverside, Calif. store, Malcolm Smith Motorsports

Here’s some wordage from the blog:

I created this blog to test and showcase products that standout to me in some way. I appreciate products that demonstrate unique design, quality craftsmanship, and superior functionality.

Looks like he started it at the first of 2010 and thus far he has reviews up for the Gaerne GX-1 boot and the Motion Pro Tri-Drive Mini-T Handle. And Malcolm’s a smart cookie in addition to being a good dude — at the end of each review he includes a buy-it-now link to the e-commerce portion of his store’s site. Nice stuff and a great way for Malcolm to capitalize on his well-deserved notoriety. This is an idea that might be worth replicating in some way, shape or form.

On a side note, at last year’s Dealer Expo, we (myself, Arlo Redwine and former editor Guido Ebert) had a chance to sit down to dinner with Malcolm, his wife, Joyce, son, Alexander, daughter, Ashley, the filmmaker Bruce Brown and some of the crew from the store (sorry for forgetting your names everybody, it was the wine!). We had a nice night in a private room at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse where we got to scarf down some delicious food, drink some fantastic wine and simply enjoy everybody’s company. That may go down as one of the most memorable “business” dinners I’ve ever been a part of as Malcolm, Joyce and the rest of the gang were perfect company.

 With that said, here’s another bit from Malcolm’s blog — his impressive stats:

– Six-time Baja 1000 Winner
– Four-time Baja 500 Winner
– Two-time Roof of Africa Rallye Winner
– Eight-time Six Days Enduro Gold Medal Winner
– Star of On Any Sunday
– Owner of Malcolm Smith Motorsports
– Industry Leader
– Philanthropist
– Family Man
– Still Winning and Grinning!

Dealernews Announces the Top 100 Dealers for 2010 — Are you one?

January 6, 2010

Oh, how we love the Top 100 contest. It’s a chance to take a peek into a myriad dealerships across the country and boy is it exciting. Well, my excitement is about to go off the chartsnow that we’ve announced the Top 100 Dealers for 2010. I got to see quite a few and I’m highly impressed at how many stores took this bad economy by the cajones and charged forth with fantastic new ideas, marketing efforst, restructured business plans and just a great big dose of Great American Kick Ass. 

A few ideas that stuck out: promotions text messaged to customers; dealers using Google AdWords, a concentrated focus on improving CSI scores, more stores offering online credit applications, many dealers using e-mail marketing, using Facebook to interact with customers, and the big daddy, an in-store discount store where lower-priced (not discounted) items are offered. 

From Mary Slepicka’s announcement:

More than 35 states from coast to coast, plus two Canadian provinces, are represented in this year’s Top 100. States with the highest number of winning dealerships are Texas (8), Missouri (7) and Virginia (6). A full list of the 2010 Top 100 Dealers follows.

The Top 100 Dealers will be honored Feb. 12 during an invitation-only awards reception in Indianapolis, where the 2010 Dealer of the Year and Merit Award winners will be revealed. The Top 100 Dealers will be showcased in a three-day gallery exhibit during the 42nd Annual Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo, held Feb. 12-15 at the Indiana Convention Center and the Marriott and Westin Hotels in downtown Indianapolis.

This year’s winners also will be commemorated in the 2010 Top 100 Yearbook, to be published in March byDealernews. In addition, an online gallery will be available starting in March at http://www.dealernews.com.

So go take a look at the list and let us know your thoughts, especially if you’re one of the Top 100.

Backflip on an XR1200? Let’s See This Done on a Road King.

December 7, 2009

Because we’ll never have video of me flipping anything but the bird, here’s a link to Australia’s Kain Saul backflipping an XR1200. Saul makes it so smooth and buttery looking, I may just try this in the backyard on my Thruxton. Now that I see this is out and about, there’s also news that American Chuck Carothers pulled off this same trick a day later in Prague. Really nice work.

Harley To Restructure York Operations

December 3, 2009

New Labor Agreement Reached

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is going to restructure its motorcycle operations in York, Pa., now that it has reached an agreement with the union there. The seven-year labor agreement by company employees at York, this week was followed by the decision of Harley’s  board of directors okaying the restructuring plan and related funding.

The new union pact paves the way for Harley’s previously stated goal of cutting nearly half of the 2,000 non-management jobs at the plant. The company expects to employ about 1,000 full-time and “casual” workers at the plant. The operation will also employ about 150 salaried employees, compared to about 270 today. The staff cuts and other concessions were necessary to keep the company viable, said one analyst.

The new long-term agreement keeps Harley and its well-paying jobs in York. The company had been considering pulling out of York and relocating the operations to a new facility in Kentucky.

“A restructured York operation will enable the plant to be competitive and sustainable for the future, and the new labor agreement is critical to making that happen,” said Keith Wandell, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc., in announcing the company’s plans.

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